Shillong, the Scotland of the East:
Shillong is a place of beauty and Comfort:
Shilling, a place in the north- eastern India, is a hilly strip and once the place was the capital of Assam in British Raj and the best choice able place for the British families who were residing in India during British administration. The natural beauty of the place with Pine Tree, the lake, the natural cleanliness of the roads, the falls, the Shillong peak, the highly standard schools, colleges, Shillong club and above all the most comfortable climate throughout all seasons of the year had made the place all attractive. Today it is the capital city of newly formed state Meghalaya ( Jan.21, 1972) of India.
Shillong, the Summer Capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam during British Raj:
Meghalaya, one of the smallest states in India is situated at an average altitude of 4,908ft (1,496 m) above sea level with about 22 lakh people. It was once a small village in the forest region at such a height. But it attracted the sight of British Rulers. In 1864, the place was made as the Summer Capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for many years. After the formation of Assam, in 1874, it was made the head quarter of new administration because of its convenient location between the Brahmaputra and Summa Valley and more so because of the climate which was much cooler than tropical India. The pleasant, pollution-free city surrounded by hills was a place of attraction for tourists local and abroad.
Shillong, a place of Tourist attraction:
Shillong is a place at the height of 1496 meter above sea level. Police Bazar is the central point of the city where number of hotels big or small is there for tourists. Shillong has no rail connection but the place is well connected with the surroundings with motor able roads. It is about 3hrs journey from Guwahati to Shillong by road. There is no dearth of Buses, Taxies and Vans. There is air connection with a small airport at Umroi, 30 km away from Shillong. One can prefer a journey via Guwahati which is well connected by major air-port at Borjar and railway station at Guwahati. Shillong receives heavy rainfalls during Monsoon. It must be known to the visitors that an Umbrella is a must in the rainy season. It is a place of Fashion. All kinds of dresses including the top quality brands from India and abroad are available in all standard shops. Traditional tribal dresses are available in Shillong.
Places to Visit in Shillong:
The resting at Shillong itself is a comfort of pleasure. The fresh air and smoothing climate make a person bright and fresh. A beautiful fall was created by broken rocks in Upper Shillong; the British named it Elephant Falls as because the broken rocks resemble an elephant. One should see the Elephant Falls in the upper Shillong although outing is hardy due to climbing of 250 steps to reach the top apart from the smooth stroll in the Police Bazar area and Shillong Lake area. One should not miss the visiting of Shillong Peak, the highest point at a height of 1965m above sea level. The city at night from Shillong peak is a view of unforgettable site. During day time visitors can venture if they wish to the forest regions. The forest regions of Shillong are different than other forest regions. There is no large or dangerous animals instead forest is full of rare and exotic plants – Orchids, pines and others including the famous insect eating pitcher plant. Pubs and Clubs are there for recreation but the night life of Friday and Saturday is enjoyable. It is a place of drinker’s paradise because the cost of drink is lowest here due to tax structure of alcohol in this state. A person of academic interest can make a visit to State Central Library, located near Dhankheti, a library established at the time of British Raj that holds many rare books and almanacs.
The Legacy of British Raj is still visible:
The house architecture and food habit of people is still comparable with that of British people. The Assam style houses with wooden floors was a typical comfortable art of house used by British in Shillong what is still used by the majority people in Shillong. The majority people of the City of Shillong belongs to Khasis community though a significant number of Bengali, Nepali, Assamese, Biharis and Marwaris are a part in making it a fairly cosmopolitan City. Besides these all other North-East Indian tribes are also present in the city. Christianity is the dominant religion of the city. An interesting aspect of the khasis is that they are matrilineal society- the mother is the head of the family, youngest daughter owns the whole property and mother’s surname is passed on to children. The Shillong Golf Course is the oldest Golf Course in India. Its unique location has made it so beautiful that it is compared with the “Glen Eagle Course” of the United States.
A Visit to Cherrapunjee is an Adventure:
Cherrapunjee is 56 km away from Shillong. It is the world’s wettest place. It is worth while to make a journey to Cherrapunji to get accustom with the clouds at the surface of the earth. Besides these, the motor able journey from Shillong to Cherrapunjee is full of thrill and excitement. The whole path of journey passes through a scenic natural beauty. The journey is adventurous and thrilling as it passes through a road sometimes covered with snow between the foothills and a canal below 200ft running parallel to jig jug road.
How the visitors like the place is reflected in their comments. Few of the comments are noted below:
(i) We had a great holiday trip to North-East. It was through LTC concession Scheme and this was the first time that we went to the North-East. The hotels are good, the rooms are clean, the food was good and the buffet breakfast was ok. It was foggy when we went to Cherrapunji. We enjoyed.
(ii) I visited Shillong during Second week of August. Shillong is such a nice place to be. The weather is very nice, low levels of pollution. Lush green all around. I stayed in Polo Towers. I booked it online and contacted them on phone for my pick up from Air-port. They arranged it very well. Rooms are quit well. [ Polo Grounds Oakland Road, Shillong].
(iii) A summary of a Visitor from Bangalore:
Hello folks, this is a post long over-due. A post about a trip that I made in the first week of May. And, the delay is much more manifested when I announce that it was the first ever air trip that I had made. In the first week of May, I went on a journey to the gateway of North East India, Guwahati. A rare opportunity that I got since my father is now working there. I visited Guwahati, Shillong and Cherrapunji during that trip.
I have only heard about those places from my friends from North-East at college and I was happy to go on a vacation there. More so because, for the first time I boarded a flight. A direct one from Bangalore to Guwahati, with a stop at Calcutta. Guwahati welcomed me with a fierce thunderstorm and after that day, it was scorching days until I left the place. Again, on the day I left, there was heavy rainfall.
In all, I spent about 10 days there with my parents. Before I dump a heap of information on the places I visited, I wish to share a piece of info. May be I might be a little late in knowing this, but just to let others know, the NE India has a great many beautiful places to be visited, and only a few of them are popular outside of those states.
I visited Shillong and Cherrapunji. Shillong is about 3-4 hrs drive from Guwahati. There are lots of shared cars/Gypsies available from a place called “Khana-Para”. Also, it is worth noting that Guwahati houses the inter-state bus stand of the seven states of NE India. We hired a cab and went on the journey. All along, the route was surrounded by hills, since the NE India is a part of the sub Himalayan terrain. May be something of a custom, every body going through that route (apart from the regulars) stop at a place called Jorabat to offer a prayer to lord Ganesha there. Jorabat is at the Assam-Meghalaya border. From there, we reach Shillong, capital of Meghalaya, via Nongpoh, the major town en route. Also, mid-way, we stopped to take a few snaps of “Bara Pani”.
The moment we enter Meghalaya, we can realize why it was named so (Meghalaya => Megha(clouds) + Alaya(abode) => Abode of clouds). Though it was officially the peak of summer, the temperature was about 25-270C. And there was always an occasional drizzle. No wonder why the British choose Shillong as their HQ for Air Force. Even now, the Govt. of India has its Eastern Air Command (EAC) at Shillong. Actually, it is not an overstatement to mention that EAC forms half of Shillong. And not really surprisingly, found a Tricky guy running a hotel providing pure Madras style food. Learnt from him that there is considerable size of Tamil population in what he calls the Upper Shillong, where my father heads a BSNL office at Late Kor.
Places to see at Shillong are mostly “View points”. The viewpoint at Lire Kor, which you would reach by driving along the entire EAC region, is the highest point of Shillong. There is always a mild drizzle three and from that point, you can practically view the whole of Shillong. For those interested in geography, the state of Meghalaya has three major hills, with one major city atop each of them (IIRC). Shillong is at the East Khasi hills; then we have the Gharo hills and Jaintha hills, with WilliamNagar/Tura and Jowai as the major places. Other places at Shillong are the Air Force Meuseum, en route from Shillong city to the litekor peak and the lake at Shillong. Went for boating there.
Then, visited Cherrapunji, officially called Shora. It was the place with highest rainfall until recently. Now, that record is held by Mawsynram, a place a few kilometers from here. Cherrapunji also has a great deal of view points, one being very famous for you can see the villages of Bangladesh from there. All along from Shillong to Cherrapunji, there are lots of places with breath taking scenic beauty. The govt. of Meghalaya has done a good job by creating/constructing “view points” where ever possible.
A few places of importance en route Shillong to Cherrapunji and in and around Cherrapunji are: “The elephant falls” and the “ Mawsmai caves” A visit to the Mawsmai caves will really test the flexibility of one’s body, if we are to take the 100 m walk inside the circular cave. The beautiful sight of the Elephant falls where we can see the water rushing from the heights of mountain peaks and falling into the abyss of the gorges is really breath-taking.
Over all, it was a great trip that I really enjoyed. Also, at the same time we should think something really serious. At least, in these parts of India, we still have the nature and its resources intact and undisturbed (They have already started to bulldoze some parts of hills to lay roads). We need to preserve them. In these days, where there are equally loud cries both for infrastructure development and for “Going Green”, we need to be very careful. Natural resources are really a gift and we should preserve them for an eternity.